Have you ever considered the Internet a place where the people are? Did you know that the average Internet user spends 2.5 hours a day online? For many people, half of that time is spent on a mobile device. This means that no matter where a person is physically, he or she can still be at a place online. Furthermore, newer, more sophisticated online tools are giving more substance to the time we spend online. All of this is good news for doing ministry there. Thus, here are five sites (new places) where people of faith can reach out to others in their community (new people):
DonorsChoose matches individuals to teachers whose students lack the resources they need to thrive. More than half of public schools have a teacher who has participated, which means schools in your church’s community probably have posted a need on the site. By mobilizing your church to support these projects, you send a strong message to teachers, students and parents that Christian charity extends to investing in the future of your community.
NeighborGoods is a tool for sharing resources that often go unused, like a saw, a lawnmower or a bike. Churches and congregants have all sorts of things sitting around that could be useful to someone in your neighborhood. In Luke 6, Jesus tells us to “lend, and expect nothing in return.” That’s exactly what this site enables.
Like most of these tools, LocalMind exists as a handy SmartPhone app as well as a website. With LocalMind, church leaders and congregation members can provide information about an area in which a user on the site is interested. Locals who respond to questions about their area will gain stature and receive preference in being asked questions. Congregation members can provide Christian hospitality to people from the community and may be able to tie a person’s interest or question to a ministry the church provides. Be careful with this method as people do not like bait-and-switch tactics. Their interest should have a strong contextual link to whatever it is you are recommending. For example, some users on the site may ask about churches or positive activities and groups in your community. LocalMind could be a bridge to your church.
SeeClickFix allows citizens to name problems in their neighborhoods and come together (with or without government involvement) to solve those problems. It gives individuals a venue for improving their communities. The site is fairly new, so if it doesn’t have traction in your neighborhood, you get to kick things off by suggesting community needs. If it has traction, your church can use the site to become a partner in finding solutions to existing issues.
Out of all these sites, MeetUp has been around the longest, but has experienced resurgence of late. MeetUp is just like it sounds; it’s a site for promoting public meetings. It also allows individuals to find meetings they are interested in attending. Not only is this a great place for churches to promote visitor-friendly events, but it also helps churches find other community events in which to get involved.
The idea of creating new places for new people is also the mission of Path1, the denominational church-planting movement encompassing national, regional and local levels of The United Methodist Church. Path1 provides collaborative leadership to re-evangelize the United States so that we might reach more people, more young people, and more diverse people for Christ. Path 1 seeks to cultivate the leaders, develop the systems and implement the strategies necessary to regain our healthy denominational habit of starting one new church a day. Learn more about Path1 and join the movement .
--Wil Ranney is a self-proclaimed “Online Ministry Evangelist.” Visit URLoved.com to find out more about Wil’s ministry.